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Opinions of Thursday, 11 March 2021

Columnist: Temple Oraeki

Enugu: Action for water, beyond rhetoric

There is no gainsaying that residents of Enugu State have had more than a fair share of water scarcity. A condition that has made the once regional capital of the old Eastern Regional headquarters an unappealing place to live. This ordeal has lingered for ages, with a sustainable way out proving elusive for past governments.

Most Enugu residents rely on hand-dug wells and water tankers to meet their daily water needs. In the dry season, the wells dry up and the scarcity bites harder.

A recurring cycle that the residents are still unable to adapt to. Therefore, it is no longer surprising to see the hashtag #EnuguWaterScarcity and #NoWaterInEnugu repeatedly trending on social media during the dry season, with the latter, recently topping the trend list on Twitter.

In the quest to find a sustainable solution to the water scarcity situation in Enugu State, a group of 13 vibrant youth-led civil society organisations, led by Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation has adopted the human rights approach, under a global advocacy campaign initiated by End Water Poverty and tagged, #ClaimYourWaterRights.

The campaign, which leverages the fact that access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, has been mobilising and sensitising Enugu residents to know and demand their human rights to water. The Claim-Your-Water-Rights Team has also been engaging the Enugu State Government and mandated water service providers to find lasting solutions to water scarcity in the state, as this condition grossly violates people’s rights.

The month of March is commemorated as the Water Action Month, which offers another leapfrog opportunity to advocate prioritisation of water supply to everyone, everywhere. In leaving no one behind, including residents of Enugu State, the Claim-Your-Water-Rights team is organising a roundtable discussion, which is designed to provide a platform for key stakeholders to discuss the challenges, progress and chart the way forward in ensuring Enugu residents have access to clean drinking water.

According to the campaign coordinator, “The violation of people’s rights to water has lingered for so long in Enugu State and it’s time to take action for water beyond rhetoric.”

The event coordinator, Mr. Daniel Ukwu, who is also the Executive Director of Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation, stated that this roundtable scheduled to hold on March 16, 2021,provides an avenue for a ‘heart-to-heart’ talk and sets the pace for key actions on water supply in Enugu State. The discussants are drawn from the state Ministry of Water Resources, state Water Corporation, Water Tankers Association, National Human Rights Commission, Enugu State House Committee on Water, community leaders and civil society organisations.

It is expected that at the end of the workshop, there will be a common understanding from the government, private water suppliers and the consumers (public) about the different challenges facing water supply in Enugu State and the progress made so far.

The key outcome from the workshop would be the development of an Action Plan that proffers practical solutions, with streamlined responsibilities for every stakeholder. The workshop would benefit both the government and the public in making sure that clean drinking water is readily available to the people of Enugu State.

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